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Psycho-pass 8, Polar Bear 35

November 29, 2012 Leave a comment

No, it’s not.

Psycho-Pass 8 finishes up its latest routine crime story and brings very little new to it. We have Ouryou, the crazy killer artist girl, give a rather mundane reason for choosing the victims she did, that they were in a girls school that was designed to create “ladies,” or good wives for successful men, I suppose, and goes on about how many other ways their talents could flower except for this society, etc. Which doesn’t explain why she’s killing the victims of society rather than the instigators. Well, she’s young and has to start somewhere, I suppose. But if were looking for an insight on their society that we might wish to relate to our own, forget it. She’s just crazy.

Your typical detective soliloquy.

Meanwhile, it occurs to this bunch of hi-tech investigators that there might be other ways in and out of the school far too late to save anybody. And once they do realize that they don’t act upon it. The only reason they found the girl’s lair is that she was caught on camera going where she shouldn’t be. No, the big insights this week come from Shinya, using his brain and a visit to an artist friend to give them the clue that they need. Akane is again along for the ride. But no one said she was the main character, I guess. And next time Makishima is targeting Shinya, I assume to be his next project, which will be interesting indeed, now that the girl has been despatched. When Makishima tells his former colleagues before killing them that they’ve failed him is it only because they got caught? I suppose you can ignore the quotes he makes as well. He’s just crazy, too.

Nothing in Polar Bear’s Cafe 35 is laugh-out-loud funny but both parts gave me a higher-than-average number of snickers. In the first, Sloth decides he wants to work at the cafe. This coul never work, of course, in spite of his advanced doctorate (in research on being high up in a tree), and ballroom dancing skills (unverified), and that fact that when he gets older algae will grow on his body. Polar Bear hires him anyway because “it could be fun,” demonstrating why he’s just behind Mutta in “male character of the year” voting in my brain and ahead of Araragi and Apo. It’s the expected jokes after that, but you have to admire sloth’s work ethic. Yes, it took him three hours to polish a glass, but that was three hours of solid work!

The possible romance takes another baby-step forward.

The second story has Handa trying to figure out what to give Sasako for Christmas. This would be dull except that all the animals try help by coaxing Sasako’s interest out of her, most amusingly Polar Bear tailing her while she goes window shopping; she’s fully aware that he’s up to something, I mean, PB is pretty obvious, but she’s too nice to call him out on it. The ladies tea section wasn’t bad either. I have a suggestion for them. Sasako could use a new outfit. Apart from her uniform she wore the same thing for both parts. Granted, it looks adorable on her, but how about a little variety?

noitaminA sevens

November 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Robotics;Notes 7 reminds me a lot of that turning point in Steins;Gate, except that no one’s taken a bullet in the forehead yet.

How many of these scene are we going to get?

In both shows the characters dither in a lighthearted way for many episodes until the plot shows up: WHAM! In this show the kids go through their usual routine of getting that big robot on its feet, or in Kaito’s case, not caring, while sinister workings continue underneath, until the end where a lot of black suits and one girl in black cars show up demanding answers. Well, it beats a bullet in the forehead. I’m growing less patient with Akiho’s obviously pointless dream of winning that robo competition and more intrigued with the other stuff. The former means ANOTHER visit to that old guy and more soul-selling to Michie’s brother or whatever, that CEO guy full of impact. And they get parts. Subaru sneaks back to see how they’re doing. Kaito doesn’t care either way. And as usual there’s a lot of talk about broken dreams from Subaru. It’s more of the same and I don’t see how they can work that in with the other, much more interesting story unless they actually build that M45 and it goes amok. Hmm …

I think the plot’s kicking in.

With the other, much more interesting story we have Airi asking Kaito innocent questions, flashbacks to Misaki visiting the old man like her younger sister does now and showing off the same eagerness and gleaming eyes Akiho does now (and in another flashback she talks about her broken dreams much like Subaru does now), which makes you wonder why Misaki looks so brain-dead now at press conferences concerning robots gone amok, another part of the secret story. And there’s Furugoori inviting Kaito to her lair to huddle under blankets, lure out cheaters in the game she invented, and tell him the story about the Gunvarrel final episode murders, and her mom. Oh, and to ask about Kaito’s “condition.” And there’s that solar flares thing, and “Kogame Kogame” playing on that mysterious transmitter AND on everyone’s phone just when the black cars show up. They’ve been letting the mysterious, fun stuff perculate underneath for several episodes now; now there’s so much of it it’s beginning to spill over. I’m really intrigued by it. Now it looks like the show’ll start putting it together at last! I just hope there aren’t any bullets to Akiho’s forehead or anything like that.

We sort of figured that out already. How about some story movement, please?

Psycho-Pass 7 is mostly talk. The first victim appears and it allows the cops to talk. Shinya, too emotionally involved in the case, is dismissed from it, and Akane is told to watch him. So they talk about how Shinya’s old partner (who seems like a complete asshole to me) died and how there are no leads. Meanwhile, the cops still on the case talk about how they have no leads. We move on to the girls academy and find more talk (Oh, I forgot, the daughter Ouryou has a one-sided conversation with her vegetable father early on) about how girls are vanishing. Then there’s the centerpiece talk where Makishima fills us in on a syndome caused by too much stress-relieving treatment, basically what did in the older Ouryou. Philosophers are quoted and Beethoven’s ninth plays. Then Ouryou has another one-sided talk, or maybe it came before, and then another one with Choe Gu-Sung, this one about Makishima, and finally some action involving a taser. And then more talk. And we don’t really learn a lot. There’s still no clue about the girl’s motive apart from a line about her father only going halfway with his sadistic drawings; even Makishima doesn’t know, and the cops are no closer to solving it than before.

Psycho-Pass 6, K 7 and maybe the last, and Polar Bear 33

November 16, 2012 2 comments

Psycho-Pass 6 gets down to business with the main story arc. It’s true that we’ve seen the ultimate culprit already; he’s been smirking on the sidelines in just about every episode, awaiting his turn to take the field … er, manipulate another person from the sidelines.

It only struck me now that the cops this episode aren’t working on a new case. Oh, one’s developing, but it’s only at the end when the workmen discover a charming piece of modern art in a fountain that it becomes an active case again. Up to that point in the episode it’s been Akane digging into Shinya’s background for no good reason I can think of. “I can’t figure that guy out” is a rotten answer. I can’t figure most people out but I don’t go digging through old police files and public records looking for clues. The fact that we have a couple of scenes of Shinya obsessing about the murder of his former partner. Like the culprit, Makishima, we’ve seen it before, but now the show begins to put these things together.

I’d have to agree, but coming from you … etc etc.

It’s well-done and straightforward, told steadily and patiently. And rather chilling as we see the bad guy has infiltrated a cloistered girls school, supposedly free from the whole psycho-pass thing. If Makishima can get in here then no place is safe. Yoshika is befriended by a dreamy upperclassman who talks to her about the strict limitations the government has placed on peoples’ lives. Even though she’s in cahoots with the bad guy(s) I have to agree with her. In fact, how many of us would wish to rebel against that world? But it does bother me that this show never gives us anyone who actively rebels against the rules who isn’t a murderous bastard or with cloudy credentials. What about normal people? Or is the very act of disapproving of the system enough to cloud you over, so to speak?

Some fine art and classical literature between murders.

It’s especially troubling because Makishima, says Shinya, is essentially giving people with the intent to kill the means to do it. The intent to kill bit can be easily looked up, apparently. But the means, that’s something the cops won’t be able to predict. And it doesn’t quite match with the current evil project with soulless Ouyou and her drawings. She’s not the one going all resin on innocent victims. Is she simply luring victims in? Surely Makishima is too sophisticated to need that sort of help. Maybe she’s a kindred soul? Another Shakespeare fan? How did she get involved in this in the first case? A lot of questions. This arc is off to a good start.

I’ll decide how I feel next week, but I haven a feeling I’m going to drop K. This after an episode 7 that looked all right and had possibly interesting things in it, but it was presented so blandly that lapsed into the lassitude I felt while watching it other weeks. There’s a fight between Kuroh and Munakata which, while animated well enough, had no life to it at all. It might have had to do with the choice of soundtrack there, music for playing after the party’s over and you’re coming down. And it was for naught because Shiro returns anyway. Then Shiro puts on an act with the aid of Neko and they escape, and we then learn that Neko can conveniently change memories as well. In this way we learn that the entire high school life was a lie, so right there they cut out the most interesting side of the anime. Homra are a bunch of dull, chiched thugs, Scepter 4 are priggish, upright nazis, and that’s all we got left, well, apart from the guy in the airship, and I have no interest whatever in meeting him. It’s a shame. This show can look really good, there’s a lot of talent behind it, and they’re pissing it away.

Polar Bear’s Cafe 33 brings us one story with an interlude where we learn just how important hand-picked beans are to a great cup of coffee. In the main story the Penguins’ action show is a big hit and Panda feels his corner is in a slump. Of course, Full-Time Panda has his part-time job to keep him occupied. Rin Rin offers as solution which isn’t quiet enough, but it’s strange to see him and Panda working together. The episode isn’t terribly good until we get the solution and a descent into classic Polar Bear Cafe lunacy, a panda family drama in which the prodigal son returns, but reveals … well, I won’t spoil it, but make sure you have your tissues on hand!

Psycho-Pass 5, Polar Bear 32, K 6

November 9, 2012 2 comments

Unconventional police work.

Psycho-Pass‘s attitude toward new technology and the people who use them seem to be as old-fashioned as any other show. Many of the characters seemed unaware of the social networks’ size and significance, while others wonder why people would bother. Only Akane, the youngest, seems to understand the what’s going on. Masaoka seems to have it both ways as he paints flowers while others are plugged in, yet can quote Rousseau and discuss how humans are basically social animals and suggest the online world is another reflection of this (in an other wise confusing speech I’m still trying to find a purpose for, though I like the bottle of booze he plunked down if only for its later, practical use). And we see it later when the team try to raid a couple of places only to find that the enemies had set up little tricks that might seem obvious to us (well, maybe not the interior hologram distortion) but befuddle and nearly kill the police. Though it’s Masaoka who finds a way out of the hologram trap using two practical, physical items, the booze and a lighter.

Conventional police work.

As far as the episode goes, it’s a basic police procedural with a “acquaintance of hero gets killed” twist, meaning we get two scenes where Akane stares off at nothing allowing the more experienced cops to drop some condolence and advice on her. Their method for pinpointing the person now doing the avatars felt smart and was a combination of statistical data analysis and human insight. And it’s not over. The people really responsble for all this are still smiling smugly in the background. I figure they’re going to the official series villains. In all it was an interesting story, even if the ideas of avatars being the pure creation of users’ expectations fell flat, and if that one cop didn’t notice that electric eye trigger.

Polar Bear’s backyard has a lot of fun things.

On Polar Bear’s Cafe 32 we learn all about Polar Bear’s yard. We already know there’s a terrace there and a cherry tree, but did you know that the cafe grows its own vegetables, and the garden is tended by kangaroos? You remember that they roast their own coffee with the help of red squirrels, but did you know that Polar Bear also employs Lemurs to make their mozarella from water buffalo milk? They also grow herbs, but no one seems to be in charge of that. And there’s a driving range, basketball court, and two mysterious paths that I wish they had gone up, but also wish that they don’t. Like Snoopy’s doghouse, some things must remain a mystery. The second half isn’t bad but we’ve already seen the penguins try to unload their surplus cards, and a penguin hero action show doesn’t sound very interesting to me. Question: why doesn’t our Penguin-san participate in these meetings? Or why isn’t he invited?

Oh, for the love of god, don’t sing! Don’t … No wonder he got murdered.

K 6 is better than last week’s but that’s not saying much. We spend much of the time with Shiro and Kuroh (Neko runs away at some point) and watch as Shiro’s perceived world begins to break down. He calls Kukuri, who does not know who he is. His parents’ phone isn’t reachable and even his house is gone. He treats this all with a tragic bewilderment while I, for about the first time all series, really want to know what’s going on. It’s the only reason I’m going to watch next week. The other half gives us Totsuka’s story, starting as a kid following Mikoto around, finally getting in with the gang in spite of his non-violence. He says an important line to Mikito about his powers being only used for good, etc, but otherwise he’s a complete bore. He even sings folk songs (and worse, we have to hear one)! So when he gets shot by the colorless king or Shiro, it’s supposed to be a great tragedy, but I can only breathe a sigh of relief.

Bakuman3 and PSYCHO 4, Hidamari 5

November 2, 2012 3 comments

Well, THAT problem got out of the way fast.

Bakuman 3 4 slipped by me; often when I realize I hadn’t watched a show for a while it’s because I wasn’t looking forward to it, and so I consider dropping it. But I’ve invested too much time in this show to drop it now, and it’s too good. Besides, how will I get by without learning if PCP passed Natural, or even Crow? They take care of that plot point early on, and then the head editor says the obvious: the manga is too popular to cancel. Which is a better way of putting it than “you beat this other manga in one particular week, so we won’t cancel you,” I guess. So now with PCP in no danger of immediate cancellation the show can start seeding the next arc. For a “crisis averted” episode they manage to keep things moving.

Mashiro, you don’t mind if Takagi writes another manga in his spare time, do you?

Our boys aren’t complacent, but they’re comfortable. Making their manga has become routine enough that they discover they have some limited free time. So you know the show is going to mess with that, first. Shiratori, one of the assistants, decides to make a manga of his own after Mashiro and Takagi encourage him. And since we also visit his home it’s clear that this is going to be one of the strands of the next arc. Shiratori is a good artist but his wealthy parents disapprove, etc. Not very interesting, but it’s already messing with the other plot point. PCP is popular, they get a drama CD (with Miho!) and a novel–but no anime. Hattori bluntly tells them that they won’t get one, either; apparently PCP is corrupting Japan’s youth, which is a noble thing to do but not popular with parents. How will Miho and Mashiro achieve their dream?? Hey, they got time, now. Make another manga series! But Hattori suggests Takagi and Shiratori collaborate on HIS manga … the plot wheels never stop spinning in Bakuman. About the only time they stop to breathe is to give an inspirational speech …

Undercover work.

PSYCHO-PASS 4 gives us our first two-parter of the series. It’s hard to make out the point of it yet. We get a missing, later dead man who was a popular online avatar character, yet the avatar is still going strong. Akane, who hangs out in these online places a lot sets up a trap through another avatar, who happens to know way too much about her. But the people behind the murder pick up on it. Two things intrigued me. First, Akane was visiting Talisman, the first avatar and asking him advice on how to handle Shinya, and it looked for a moment like she might have actually gotten that advice from an AI of some sort. Not a new idea, but still one with interesting implications. The other thing is that the murderers are adamant about keeping the victims’ online presences alive, which begs the question: why are they killing them in the first place? Do they feel that the spirits of the avatars are something important to the community and should be left alone? Talisman was supposedly straying from the things that made him popular before the murder, and as for Spooky Boogie, making a deal with the Feds … well… So are they sort of online enforcers of avatar purity, or are they simply covering their tracks? We don’t see much of the murderers, only that they’re rather bloodthirsty, so I figure we’ll get the answer next week.

Hidamari Sketch – Honeycomb 5 features the two newest girls, though they’re not all that new anymore; it’s been over a season now since they first moved in. But it struck me that we don’t really know all that much about them.

Fried chicken practice.

First we turn to Nazuna, the dullest of the main characters, capable of being cute and helpless and that’s about it. Now she has to make dinner for her visiting parents, you remember, the ones who up and left town without her because the father got new work and claimed he’d be helpless without the mother taking care of him. Well, apart from that they’re lovely people and quite proud of their daughter even though they could tell she got extra help with the fried chicken dinner she made for them. It’s interesting that Nazuna turned first to Yuno for help (Yuno spends the entire episode as a side character) instead of Hiro, even if Hiro gets involved pretty quickly. Sure, Hiro is a senior and studying a lot, but maybe Nazuna considers Yuno a more accessible upperclassman. I was also pleased to see that Hiro had Yuno make the miso soup. Yuno HAS learned a few things. It’s also nice that Nazuna actually did most of the cooking herself in the end. It was the rice(!) that did her in. Nazuna is still a dull character, but since everyone else gets involved it didn’t turn out so bad. And Miyako got plenty of leftovers!

Oh oh, here we go …

The second half had the more interesting combination of Nori and Sae. Apart from brief Natsume moments we rarely see Sae without Hiro around. Here the two spend some time together after Nori has a nightmare. Nori’s more fun than Nazuna, more mature, outgoing, and outspoken. Plus she’s a computer nut, even though she doesn’t save her work (er, excuse me … ctl-s) often enough and uses Shaftsoft Wonders rather than a Mac or Linux distro (Hmm, which character would use which distro, I wonder?). And we learn from their pointless book vs. computer argument that she can be as headstrong and stubborn as Sae, and mature enough to pull back before going too far. But I kept getting distracted by the sparse arrangement of Sae’s room, and the repeating books on her shelf and that poster … what do all those numbers mean?

Three threes and a thirty: Robotics, Psycho, Sukitte, Polar Bear

October 27, 2012 4 comments

Kaito, in the zone, or something.

ROBOTICS;NOTES 3 continues to slip in a darker story around its lighthearted robot battlin’. Just a little at a time. We got the sudden blurriness Kaito experiences which could be easily attributed to fatigue (staying up all night because you don’t have hotel room will do that to you) except the show makes too much of a point of it, and after that we worry about how it might affect Kaito’s performance in the matches … and it does. We also learn a little about Akiho’s older sister, reluctant to contact her for some reason, though when you see the person she’s working for you may understand why, well, we don’t know if that guy’s actually a good sort or not but with him around, and all the hints about some accident four years ago, undoubtedly the reason for Akiho’s ailment and Kaito’s newly-encountered, opposite-working one, but you couldn’t blame the older sister for keeping Akiho distant. Oh, and Fraukoujiro, programmer, shows to give Kaito a terrific grin, so we got plenty on our plate for next week.

Not dazzling the stage.

But with all, the real focus is on the tournament. The scenes here have their moments, but does every opponent the good guys face have to be a trash-talking asshole? Also, Kaito does way too well considering the amount of time he has. I cant believe no one else has thought to wire their robots with existing online game technology. Maybe having Fraukoujiro, the creator, do Kaito’s gives him an advantage, but surely there are open-source alternatives out there … but it’s only the final battle where any opponent gives him any trouble. And here we get to a different type of unbelievability, if that’s a word. It’s as if we’ve left this world and entered Tari Tari to steal a plot point (come to think of it, the robotic club has some similarities with the choir club–not enough members, fiercely independent, a teacher who hates them …). It was certainly unexpected and it helped get Subaru into the main story, but not terribly believable and a bit silly, really. Never mind. The show is moving along nicely, and I’m frankly glad they didn’t spend any extra time on the tournament.

Shinya does his Bad Cop, with frightful results.

PSYCHO-PASS 3 is almost entirely a standalone episode. We get one bit at the beginning where Shinya obsesses at a blurry photo pinned to a wall as character development, and then it’s off to a factory where drones have killed three people in a year. We learn that the place is completely cut off from outside communications, the workers go around the clock, and we quickly realize that this is not the happiest place to work. Worse is when the detectives, when not arguing procedures or lecturing Akane the newbie, witness a worker getting bullied and learn this is one of the few outlets they have for fun. We have the setup right there. A cut-off workplace where cruelty is overlooked, no wonder the victim snaps. It’s ridiculous in terms of realism but this show doesn’t seem to have a problem with that. That they couldn’t tell when the victim’s hue reached a dangerous level, or rather, they didn’t seem to care, that the victim just snaps when Shinya tries some psychology on him. So let’s ignore the details and look at the connection to us. There are workplaces like this in our world which are so poorly arranged they inadvertently cause people to snap, and policy is to hide it. But once we accept the connection, what do we do? Why, we sit back and watch drones chase Shinya and Akane and wait for the cool Dominator guns to work, and maybe wonder why Shinya and Ginoza hate each other.

Sukitte Ii na yo 3 is similar to episode 2; Mei gets comfortable around Yamato, learns something shocking about him which sends her into a funk, then has Yamato pull her out of it, with another kiss.

Here the shock comes from Aiko, that girl seen at the end of scenes, usually glaring at Mei and Yamato as they pass by. In this episode Mei is going out to have her hair done, Yamato invites himself and calls it a date, and they run into Aiko and a guy named Masashi whom she repeatedly insults yet is in bed with by the episode’s end. In other words, she’s hard to figure out. She tells Mei that she and Yamato had had sex (shocking enough), and, just as interestingly, tells her that if Mei isn’t sure she’s in love with Yamato, she should just back out of it. For Mei it’s time to abandon the bowling game and pet the stray cat for a while. Yamato tracks her down and there’s a discussion about his flawed middle school days and what he sees as betrayal of a friend, consequent self-loathing and a lack of self-identity, at least, compared to Mei. Hence the attraction.

Well, what did they expect Anteater would have for treats?

Which is all in direct contrast to Aiko, who believes you have to earn the love of someone if you want them. Unfortunately, this means changing her image completely to appeal to the boy she was dating, to the point where she ruined her skin, and then she found out the boy was cheating on her anyway. The complete opposite of Mei, who hasn’t changed a thing about herself, apart from trying to learn to trust people, and now has Yamato’s full attention, I think. I still don’t quite trust the boy. Who’s to say some other distraught girl won’t rush to his arms asking for a pity-fuck like Aiko did. Anyway, you can see that Mei’s apparent indifference to Yamato would be enough to infuriate Aiko. Through it all Mei never does get the haircut she went out for, and Yamato has suggested she let it grow. He likes long hair. Will she take his preference into consideration or will she style it the way she wants to? Cut it short, Mei!

Finally, it’s time for our weekly question: which half of Polar Bear’s Cafe is better? This time it’s part one. Our three heroes go off trick-or-treating and it’s worth it just to see the variety of costumes Polar Bear manages to try. My favorites were the matador costume and the pink dress. Part two, where Llama asks for a special day at the zoo, fails because Llama’s running gag, besides the eyelashes and spitting (and he’s “sealed” that), is that there’s nothing remarkable at all about him.

Tonari 2, Kamisama 2, Chuuinbyou 2, PSYCHO-PASS 1

October 12, 2012 3 comments

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun sure didn’t waste any time getting the romance started. At first I thought we were just going to meet some of the side characters for the first time. Out of the blue comes Asako, a dumb but beautiful girl who begs Shizuku to help her study for a make-up exam. Shizuku says no, and Haru is oblivious, until he learns that if she fails she’ll have to take remedial exams and miss a first meeting with online friends. Haru volunteers to help. Much to Shizuku’s surprise.

The thing that struck Haru is that Asaka doesn’t have any real life friends. Girls don’t like her because they’re jealous and boys hover around her but they’re boys. Haru doesn’t have many friends either, apart from Shizuku. Haru talks about the empty feeling he used to have because of this, and finally this hits home with Shizuku as well. After being accused of being unfeeling, Shizuku decides to help Asaka as well. In an early internal monologue she talks about the background noise distracting her (actually it’s her feelings for Haru), but later, having dealt with Haru and now Asaka she talks about that noise being comforting. It’s not well handled; we’re basically told this.

Neither is her sudden confession to Haru. It’s only episode two, and Shizuku isn’t the type, I thought, to just come to such a conclusion. Well, she’s a practical girl … But what are they going to do for the rest of the series? We also meet Sasahara, a boy who knew Haru in middle school, but apart from providing background info on Haru he doesn’t do much. And I’m pleased to say that Haru’s toned down this week. He’s still impulsive and wild, but he’s not threatening sexual violence or stealing kisses this time. There’s only the moment where he prevents her from removing her head from his lap, but she discovers she’s fine with that.

In Kamisama Hajimemashita it takes maybe one second after hearing that gothy pop-idol Kurama is transferring to Nanami’s school to realize he’s some evil spirit after her. The rest is patiently waiting for him to reveal himself while Tomoe forces Nanami to wear a stupid hat to hide her divine symbol and constantly warns her about such people. Some bits liven it up. We learn that much of the class looks down on Namami because of her poverty. Nanami’s forgiving of Kurama at the end was a nice touch. Tomoe is more fun now, torn between serving a master he doesn’t like and a growing trust of the girl. But I’m not sure that’s enough to keep me watching another episode.

In Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! 2 we meet some new people, especially the fearsome Tooka, and we learn why Rikka is so afraid of her. Hell, I would be.

Yuuta has said too much.

The issue this week is a lost cat that Rikka takes in. She dumps it in Yuuta’s care because Tooka is allergic, though she describes it in much more dramatic terms, of course. Along the way Yuuta manages to chat up Shinka, the beautiful classmate we met last week, and the more interesting Kumin, who might actually be the cat’s owner. They take her over to check out the cat and along the way she gets a full dose of Rikka’s weirdness and also witnesses Yuuta lapsing into geek mode. Her reaction? Smile. Smile cutely, in fact. I like her already.

Do not cross this woman. Do not even walk on the same side of the street as her.

But for the characters we meet this week, no one comes close to Rikka’s older sister, the dreaded Touka, she of the deadly ladle and other titles Rikka gave her that I didn’t bother to write down. You can understand where she’s coming from. She has to put up with Rikka full-time, there’s a cat in the apartment and she’s allergic to them, and she probably has a temper even without those hassles. She also has no problem blackmailing Yuuta with a recording from his shameful days. Soon all three of them (Kumin’s along for the ride), four if you count the cat, are on the run from her.

An epic battle fought with ladles and umbrellas.

Leading to an ultimate duel between the powers of Rikka and Touka! We switch to Rikka’s imagination and get the best battle scene so far this season, so epic in scale that I kinda wished it was for real. When we switch to Yuuta’s POV and see what’s really going on it’s about the funniest moment this season as well. Excellent scene. But I wonder if Rikka’s overactive imagination is partly due to the amount of whacks to the head she gets every episode. Touka smacks her, Yuuta smacks her, and she manages to injure herself (usually while doing a spectacular maneuver). Let’s see, I among the main characters only the blonde hasn’t shown up. But there’s no way she can top Touka. That woman is scary.

Speaking of scary, next we have PSYCHO-PASS, the first of the new shows on the sometimes-esteemed noitaminA block, written by Gen Urobochi. If that isn’t enough to make you interested, or dismayed, you haven’t been watching much the past two years.

Shinya, the hound, fills in Akane, the rookie.

Episode one is a standard thriller setup with a moral quandary nastier than most. We first meet a guy named Shinya as he fights his way to a showdown, I assume, with a guy named Shogo. Okay, here is the story, I thought. But after that we switch to a situation where a rookie girl cop goes on her first mission, to track down a guy who’s crime coefficient is way off the charts. It seems everything you do AND think in this noirish, neon, predictable world is monitored, and potential villains are stopped before they start, which could ruin their lives. Hence the situation here, where the cops have to root out a guy who’s gone off the average, snapped, and taken a hostage.

The newbie, Akane, is assigned two helpers, “latent criminals” who work rooting out other latent criminals (Shinya is one of them). While we’re mulling the implications of that we learn all about their cheerful weapon, the Dominator, which won’t fire unless it’s at a latent criminal (explained by a friendly female phone-voice which must be a pain to the people using the weapon), and then can fire in paralysis or lethal mode depending on the target’s nastiness. During the hunt we get the usual speech by one of the “hounds” to the newbie about throwing away everything she’s learned in school, this is real life, etc. And later the same guy is just fine with killing the hostage because she’s gone over the limit, too. Well, she’s been abducted, raped, nearly killed, and now her rescuers are also pointing a gun at her. How would you react?

The victim, first of the madman and now of the police.

Here’s where the whole situation gets twisted. The innocent hostage is marked for death, too, because she’s passed some sort of neurological threshold. This is too much for Akane, who calms her down a little, just enough that the gun (not the users, who don’t seem to care either way) steps down to paralysis mode. So the girl is “only” paralyzed. And Akane is now in trouble with her superiors. Yep, Urobochi is going to have a lot of fun with this story, and that’s the only reason I’ll keep watching. Otherwise this show, in spite of its sophisticated look and feel, acts like a PKD knockoff.